Dads find SEA Games family pride in Kevin Alas, Thirdy

Rey Joble

Posted at Mar 15 2022 12:03 AM

Before he became a successful coach, Louie Alas was a man full of ambition but failed to achieve his goals as a player.

As a national team aspirant during the late 1980s, Alas, a do-it-all guard, had to fight for spots with more illustrious players such as Jojo Lastimsa, Bong Alvarez, Glenn Capacio, Ato Agustin, Ronnie Magsanoc, Dindo Pumaren and Eric Altamirano among others.

Alas wasn't able to play for the Philippine team even though he was considered among the finest amateur players during that time.

In the PBA, he was selected in the 3rd round of the 1990 Rookie Draft by Purefoods, but he suffered an ACL injury that ended his hopes of becoming a pro player.

His frustrations to have a promising basketball career as a player led to his path to coaching and Alas became one of the best coaches in local basketball, helping Letran to numerous championships, the national team to a gold medal finish in the SEA Games more than 2 decades ago, a title in the now defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association and a championship in the ABL while handling the Philippine Patriots.

When his son, Kevin Alas, was recalled to become a part of the Gilas Pilipinas program, the elder Alas felt absolute satisfaction on his son's path of being recognized as one of the players in the PBA.

Looking back, Kevin had to battle adversities.

He underwent not just one, but 2 operations to repair an ACL tear on both knees.

But the younger Alas was so determined to get back and didn't waste a single time on his path to recovery.

"Doon pa lang , nakita namin how tough mentally this player is," Louie said. 

Kevin worked his way back to game shape and has played as efficient as before while serving as team captain of the NLEX Road Warriors, who finished the ongoing PBA Governors' Cup in 2nd place with an 8-3 win-loss record.

In the elimination round of the Governors' Cup, Alas led the team's local scoring as he averaged 16.4 points while also grabbing 5.3 rebounds, dishing out 4.8 assists and a steal.

His consistent performance led to his recall to the national team program. In 2013, he was part of the gold-winning SEA Games team before entering the PBA the following season.

"I can't explain the satisfaction I'm having right now," said the elder Alas. "Hindi ko man nagawa, at least na-fulfill naman ng anak ko ’yung dreams ko before. I'm hoping magawa pa ng iba pang anak ko." 

Meanwhile, Bong Ravena was a member of the 1991 Philippine squad that won the gold medal in the Manila SEA Games, so the former player-turned coach knows how fulfilling it is being a part of a champion squad in international competitions.

Such joy is now being shared by his sons, Kiefer, who won multiple gold medals while playing in the SEA Games and lately Thirdy, the younger of the brothers who was also included in the Gilas Pilipinas team for the coming biennial meet by head coach Chot Reyes.

His sons are already making waves playing for different ball clubs in the Japan B. League, but nothing gives Bong more pride than seeing Kiefer or Thirdy representing the Philippine squad once they're called up.

" ’Yung 1991 SEA Games, for me is very memorable experience to play for the flag," said Bong, who played alongside Vergel Meneses, Johnny Abarrientos, Marlou Aquino, Jun Limpot, Vic Pablo and the late Nonoy Chuatico among others.

"Tapos, dito pa, home crowd pa. Doon ko na-experience ’yung goosebumps while playing. Kasi before, sa national team, we played in abroad. Dito, iba ’yung feeling na hometown crowd, kasi iyo lahat. Napakasarap maglaro sa mga kababayan. Masarap mag-represent for the country."

For Thirdy, he looked back at his first men's team inclusion several years ago while he was still playing for Ateneo.

It was an experience similar to that of Christian Laettner when he became the only college player to join the best of the best from the NBA for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. 
"I never expected to be a part of the men's team," added Thirdy. "A few years back, I tweeted 'What a dream for me to be part of the 2019 World Cup team', pero nagulat ako nangyari siya nu’ng 2019 (as part of the pool). 

“It's something that has never been done before. Wala pang na-lineup na collegiate player sa men's team. Hindi ko talaga makakalimutan ’yung moment na ’yun."

A few years later, Thirdy went on to be a part of the young men's team of Gilas until he became one of the holdovers when the national team program reverted to using PBA players for major international competitions, including the coming SEA Games in Hanoi.

For Bong, playing for the national team is an experience like no other and he is happy he and his sons have been able to complete the cycle of representing Team Philippines.

The sons have also risen to the occasion, and they're not done yet as they will continue shine.